>> The battle of Airbus versus Boeing. Over the past two decades, the plane makers have traded the crown on the annual orders race. Usually it's been clear who had bragging rights in the fiercely competitive $120 billion annual jet market. But for 2016, it's a little murky. On Wednesday, Airbus retained the top spot when it said it recorded 731 net orders for 2016.
Boeing's tally was 668. Standing out is the unusual kingmaker between the two western giants, is Iran. Emerging from decades of sanctions to place billions of dollars of new orders. Because of fragile demand elsewhere, its comeback carries unusual weight. While Airbus included all but 2 of the 100 aircraft it sold to Iran last year, its American arch-rival did not report its 80, easily making up the difference between the two final totals.
It's unclear why Airbus formerly reported Iranian orders while Boeing didn't, or what criteria was used by each company in making their decisions. A source close to Boeing saying there was some bemusement as to why Airbus was able to book all of their Iranian orders. Airbus sources say the company's year end numbers were strictly audited.
Regardless, analysts say such margins show how relatively thin orders have become after a decade of mostly rampant growth, coinciding with growing indicators that the aerospace cycle is weakening. Sales not expected to soar any higher in 2017.